Skull-shaped asteroid returns: Halloween asteroid will come close to earth in November 2018

skull shaped asteroid approaching Earth
A screen grab from YouTube video

The weird asteroid, which looks like a human skull is set to fly by earth once again. Only two months to go until the Spooky Asteroid or the Skull Asteroid will give a chance to the astronomers to get another look at it.

The giant asteroid was first spotted on October 10, 2015, by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) at Hawaii's Haleakala Observatory and since then it is lurking in the solar system. Officially called Asteroid 2015 TB145, the Halloween Asteroid was measured roughly 2,100-foot-wide (640 meters).

On October 31, 2015, it came within just 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometres) of earth, slightly further away than the moon's orbit.

Now, after three years, the Skull Asteroid aka Asteroid 2015 TB145 is set to pass by the blue planet again. But, this time it won't occur directly on Halloween this time. Astronomers expect that even though won't be as dramatic as the last time, the flyby will occur in mid-November and researchers are still looking forward to it.

"Although this approach shall not be so favourable, we will be able to obtain new data which could help improve our knowledge of this mass and other similar masses that come close to our planet," researcher Pablo Santos-Sanz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) told SINC back in 2017.

He also added that the Spooky Asteroid "is currently 3.7 astronomical units away from Earth that is 3.7 times the average distance from the Earth to the Sun. It has a magnitude of 26.5, which means it is only visible from Earth using very large telescopes or space telescopes."

The co-author of this research, which was published in February 2017 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, Thomas G. Müller from the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik (Germany) said that after 2018, Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be seen during Halloween's day in the year 2088, "when the object approaches Earth to a distance of about 20 lunar distances."

"The encounter on Halloween's day 2015 was the closest approach of an object of that size since 2006, and the next known similar event is the passage of 137108 (1999 AN10) on August 7, 2027. Later, 99942 Apophis will follow on April 13, 2029, with an Earth passage at approximately 0.1 lunar distances," he added.

As per the researchers, this asteroid may actually be an extinct comet that has lost its water and other volatile materials after many laps around the sun.

However, there are debates related to the shape of this asteroid, as many experts believe that its shape doesn't really depict a skull and it is just the human mind's tendency, which tries to find patterns where there aren't any. But, still, in this case, the weird asteroid looks quite spooky to many and scientists will again have an opportunity to study its characteristics.

Related topics : Asteroid Space